Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Must Attend for Community Wireless Networking

Below the surface, where policy makers rarely go, live the community wireless networkers. They don’t have billions in capitalization, they don’t lay miles of fiber, and they don’t have spectrum licenses. Heck, most aren’t even commercial organizations. Many of them are collections of volunteers, or non-profit organizations. The commercial ones are usually small businesses, embedded in their comunities, trying a run a business in a responsible manner rather than dreaming of huge IPOs.

But the community wireless networks (CWN) change people’s lives every day. They bring broadband connectivity to neighborhoods that can’t afford it and the rural areas that the big boys ignore. They are the development lab of innovation for networking. From open source mesh to solar powered transmitters to “cantenna”-type reuse and recycling of available parts, you can find folks playing with these in community wireless networks.

The Third International Summit for Community Wireless will take place in Columbia, MD at Loyolla Colege on May 18-20. It represents an unparalleled oppotunity to find out what is going on not just here in the U.S., but in other countries as well. This is the place to find out how people confronting the “digital divide” in the trenches are finding solutions in places that the largest companies don’t want to service. Whether it’s how to keep cows from knocking down your towers or how to make sure a local project stays local and sustainable, you’ll find people talking about it here.

I plan to be there. I know a lot of great people listed in the press release reproduced below plan to come as well. If you’re smart, you will as well.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Criag Aaron and I show up on Uprising Radio

You can listen to Free PRess’ Craig Aaron and yr hmbl obdnt on this weekly wrap up at Uprisingradio.org. We talk about the 700 MHz auction (what else), postal rates, the save internet radio campaign, and the media mergers on the horizon.

Stay tuned . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

VA Tech Aftermath: The Usual Panic Repression With A Racist Undertone

It seem sadly inevitable. Whenever we have a national tragedy, a pattern of repression — often flavored with a racist or at least anti-nonconformist undertone — breaks out. After the Columbine tragedy, schools rushed in to expell any kid that looked like a Goth and put “zero tolerance” policies in place that did little for safety but lots to satisfy panic. After 9/11, we got to see anyone who looked even vaguely middle eastern subject to extra searches, police stops, and occassionally getting dragged away on suspicion of something or other.

Now, sadly, it’s happening again. First, lets pump up the gullible with a non-stop media orgy of “How did we miss the signs?” “Kids these days are so violent, and exposed to so many violent influences.” “Who knows where or when the next mad student will strike?” “It could be anyone! It could be the (Asian) kid next door!” etc., etc., etc. And lets keep flashing the same pictures of the VA Tech murderer over and over and over — in case anyone missed he’s Asian.

All set, than lets zoom ahead to where our latest outbreak of post-trauma panic is taking place. According to this story in the Chicago Tribune, it would appear that the police have arrested Allen Lee for “disturbing the peace.” His criminal conduct? An essay he wrote in his creative writing class disturbed his teacher, who took it to the department head, who took it to the principal, who called the police, who had young Allen Lee arrested. His father subsequently paid the $75 bail, so they obviously do not consider him an imminent threat of some undefined terrible thing.

Until last week, Allen Lee was a straight A student with a contract to enter the Marine Corps after graduation. Other than being Asian, he does not appear to share much in common with VA Tech murdered Sueng Hui Cho. Lee wrote his essay for a creative writing class, in which the teacher urged Lee and the other students to “express their emotions through writing.”

More below . . . .

UPDATE: Here is a link to the essay in question and some author commentary. I am ungenerous enough to wonder if the teacher would have found it so “disturbing” if she had not been personally insulted as a bad teacher delluding herself.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Oh yeah, the Skype Petition . . .

In addition to my pleas to save the 700 MHz auction, save postal rates, save internet radio, save the last dance, etc., etc., I almost completely forgot about supporting the Skype Petition. Comments are due Monday, April 30. You can file comments by going to the FCC’s website and filling out the fields. It’s pretty self explanatory except the docket number, which is RM-11361. Just click here.

Oh yeah, I should probably explain a bit about what this is and why you should care. For that, see below . . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Support the Internet Radio Equality Act!

According to this article, Rep. Inslee (D-WA) and Rep. Manzullo (R-IL) have introduced The Internet Radio Equality Act. From my brief reading, it nullifies the previous decision of the Copyright Royalty Board that started this mess, replaces the current langauge with the same standard used for satellite radio, and sets transitional rates until the next CRB hearing under the new standard.

Inslee has long been a friend to tech and new media and a foe of media consolidaion. In 2006, he joined with Markey and others to sponsor a stand alone NN bill after COPE passed out of the House Commerce Committee. Inslee has also been a champion on unlicensed access in the broadcast white spaces and supported municipal broadband.

The folks at SaveNetRadio now have an action alert on their front page to get nfolks to contact their representatives to get this through and signed into law before the new rates kick in on May 15.

I am reminded of an old saying that one of the professors at my law school alma mater was want to say: “Dogs get kicked; hogs get et.” Here, SoundExchange decided to act like a hog. As a result, they may get their cushy litte standard completely reset.

At least until May 15, stay tuned . . . . .

Posted in Fighting the IP Mafia, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Open Access Included in Spectrum Notice! Fish In Trees! Rivers Running Uphill!

Yesterday, I wrote, with regard to whether the FCC’s Further Notice on the 700 MHz Spectrum Auction would include questions on our open access proposal:

I think our chances of moving forward to the next round are pretty close to zero. OTOH, I live from day-to-day in the hope of pleasant surprises.

Apparently, I live another day. And so does the open access proposal. As explained by Gigi Sohn, we live to fight another day.

It was a wild meeting. Pushed back from 9:30 to 10:30, then pushed off again until 6:45 p.m. The contentious issue was, as predicted, license size. Apparently, McDowell teamed with the Ds to make sure the Further Notice requested comment on a mix of licenses and not just the large licenses that Martin wanted.

The Order is not yet out, so I can’t really assess yet what the results are. Heck, they don’t even have all the seperate statements up yet. Here are links to the news release, Chairman Martin’s statement (expressing disappointment over the license size issue), Commissioner Adestein’s statement (with a shout out to the public interest coalition!), and Commissioner McDowell’s statement (which basically says “I know I’m the swing vote, but I need to catch up on the comments because I’ve been out with my new kid”).

But whatever happens, I gotta give a shout out to Martin for being willing to put the open access question out there and have it debated. Yes, all credit to the Ds. But I don’t believe we would be positioned to have the discussion about wireless open access if Martin had been dead set against it.

Off to bed. It’s been a day.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Inventing the Future

Of mice and pirates

I had always understood patents to be about the mechanism of the device, not it’s effect. E.g., a particular mouse trap design, not the idea of catching mice.

But what do I know? Squeak blogger Torsten turned me on to this article about some courtroom pirates suing Apple over the User Interface in their latest operating system release. The original patent was for an old Xerox UI implemented in Interlisp-D, and now owned by a holding company.

Apple’s Tiger operating system isn’t implemented in Lisp. Do you suppose the lawyers are basing their argument on Greenspun’s Tenth Rule?

Posted in Inventing the Future, Philosophical business mumbo-jumbo | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Get Your Brackets Set for Tomorrow's Spectrum Sweet Sixteen!

In the FCC’s version of “April Madness,” the FCC will hold a meeting tomorrow (April 25). Among other items, the meeting will consider an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the upcoming 700 MHz Auction.

Readers who plowed through my impossibly long field guide to the 700 MHz auction may recall that I highlighted a large number of issues and players that have clustered around this extremely important auction. Many critical filings and proposals (including, I am embarassed to admit, those of the public interest spectrum coalition) came in after the official deadline. (Hey! We’re busy! If someone wants to give Media Access Project a million dollars or two so we can stay on top of everything, email me!)

The combination of far reaching proposals and lack of time has prompted incumbents to challenge the FCC’s ability to grant these proposals because they do not comply with the “notice” requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA requires that an agency give everyone notice of what it plans to do and give interested parties a chance to comment. So the FCC will solve this problem by making some basic decisions now, and rolling over the remaining decisions to a Further Notice. Since we have a statutory deadline ticking away, parties will get only a month for comments and replies, and the FCC will make its final decisions at the end of May or early June. That way, they can still get to the auction by January 2008.

In other words, Wed. represents the first cut on how the FCC will proceed and the general direction it will go for the auction. Will it favor the incumbent push for large license blocks and open bidding? Will it allow the Frontline proposal to go forward? What about network neutrality?

Below I give my “spectrum bracket” for who gets to go from the Sweet Spectrum Sixteen to the Final Four. What’s likely to get cancelled, get renewed, or remains on “the bubble” for next season? Which proposals get “voted off the Island?” For my guesses, and my further entries for the next Stephen Colbert Meta-Free-For-All, see below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Dr. Rose Proves It Was Spectrum Co. In The Kitchen With the Candlestick . . .

My good friend Dr. Gregory Rose has released two studies on last summer’s AWS Auction. I just bloged about them at length over at the Public Knowledge policy blog. So rather than repeat myself, I will merely say:

I argued after the AWS auction that cable companies and wireless incumbents had used the auction to kill DBS as a competitor. Rose proves that in his first report,
How Incumbents Blocked New Entrants In The AWS-1 Auction: Lessons For The Future.

Rose’s second report, Tacit Collusion In The AWS Auction: The Signalling Problem, looks at the use of bids to communicate. Again, as I’ve argued before, only by adopting anonymous bidding rules can the FCC stop bidders from suing the auction process to signal each other.

For the rest of my commentary, check out my PK blog.

Stay tuned . . . .

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My Thoughts Exactly

Jack Welch, Karl Rove, media cartels, and the subversion of democracy

By way of Smirking Chimp I come across this fascinating (and utterly depressing) account of how Karl Rove “reached out” to (Saint) Jack Welch, A.K.A “the buzz saw”, Chairman of General Electric, the parent company of NBC, and how together they put in place the right wing noise machine that masquerades as our nation’s electronic news media.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)
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